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Racial Discrimination in USA: Incident of Emmett till

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Discrimination is a critical matter in the United States of America. There are many different types of racial discrimination. A person can be discriminated against because of their age, disability, race, gender, economic status, national origin, and ethnicity. Racial discrimination still exists in 2019. As W.E.B Dubois said “The color line divides us still.” (Darling-Hammond) Racial discrimination is treating a person or people unfavorably because they are of a certain race or have characteristics associated with a particular race. Race is ethnic and racial groups (Hattan). Author Jacqueline Jones describes race as both illusionary and distracting (Jones) Racial discrimination can be experienced in a variety of different ways. The Equality Act of 2010 says that you must not be discriminated against because of your race. (Green) Even though significant progress has been made, racial discrimination still remains a problem in the United States of America.

In 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously decided in the case of Brown v. Board of Education that made segregation in education unequal. On June 4, 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson said,” You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: ‘now, you are free to go where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.’ You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe you have been completely fair… This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result”. (The American Yawp Reader) President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination in jobs and public accommodations based off of race, color, religion, or national origin. This provided the federal government the power to enforce desegregation. He also signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 that outlawed the discrimination in financing, sale and rental housing. In 1991, President Bush signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991 that strengthened the civil rights laws that were already in place. (The American Yawp Reader)

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In the 1930’s, nine African American teenagers were accused of raping two Caucasian women on a train in Alabama. The teenagers were known as the Scottsboro boys were ages thirteen to twenty. The death penalty was sought for the boys. They had an all-white male jury because African Americans were banned from serving on the jury. They were denied due process because of this and because they didn’t have an attorney. Their convictions were overturned by the United States Supreme Court. They were retried in court and found guilty. The entire case was unfair simply based on race. One of the women recanted her testimony. (Kindig)

Emmett Till was a fourteen-year old boy that allegedly whistled at a Caucasian woman. He was kidnapped, beaten and killed. He died on August 28, 1955 in Mississippi where he was visiting family. The killers tied his body with barbed wire to a metal fan and dumped it in the Tallahatchie River. An all-white male jury acquitted the killers who then went free. Emmett Till was murdered but because he was African American, nothing was done. The discrimination still continues. The Emmett Till memorial was vandalized by three Ole Miss Students this year. This isn’t the first time it has been vandalized. A new bulletproof sign was designed for the memorial in Mississippi. (Anderson)

One of the most common places for racial discrimination is in the workplace. Sometimes it happens and we aren’t aware of it. If a supervisor handles situations differently because of the employee’s race, it is illegal. A study published in 2003 found that employers were more likely to consider white candidates with criminal records than black candidates. If the company has a rule that states an employee may only speak English at the job, this violates Title VII. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. Every year, the EEOC, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, receive over 100,000 cases regarding discrimination. About twenty five percent of the cases were filed by African American workers alleging racial discrimination. (Green)

“Over time, the way in which people discriminate, what they acknowledge and admit out loud, has changed,” said Chicago lawyer Linda Friedman, who represented 700 workers in a race discrimination lawsuit against Merrill Lynch that resulted in a $160 million settlement in 2013. “But the ultimate end, which is differential treatment — treating whites more favorably than African Americans — has not changed.” ( Altonji) There is a gap in education between African American and Caucasian students. Racial discrimination and the education gap is an uncomfortable topic for some people. African Americans students once had to attend segregated schools. It has now been illegal in the United States for sixty-five years. The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that racial segregation was unconstitutional in schools. This came from the Brown v. Board of Education case. All students deserve the same education. (Meatto)

“Our investigation identified examples where African American students engaging in virtually identical behavior to white students were punished more harshly than white students (who had the same or worse disciplinary history),” the department wrote in a letter to the district. “A statistical analysis of all students referred for discipline for the first time, based on the District’s own records and categorizations, found that African Americans were at least twice as likely to receive a suspension than white students for violations of similar severity. Moreover, African Americans experiencing their first referral were over three times more likely than white students to have the suspension be [out of school] rather than [in school]. For students whose first disciplinary referral was for Inappropriate Behavior, African American students were nearly seven times more likely to receive [an out-of-school suspension] than white students.” (Staples)

‘I do believe that parents must take an active role [regardless of race] to inform their children that they are no better or no worse than anyone because of race,’ Kejohn03 wrote. ‘These lessons were taught to me and when I have children I will do the same. Once this happens, then there will be less misconceptions and negative perceptions regarding race.’ ( Clark) This chart shows whether people believe white students and African American students should go to the same schools or different school. African American athletes are taking a stand against racial discrimination. Colin Kaepernick was the San Francisco 49’ers quarterback. He refused to stand for the National Anthem. He is protesting the wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States of America. ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,’ Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. (Lapchick) ‘To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.’ (Lapchick) “The University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport recorded 52 acts of racism in sports in the United States in 2018, up from 41 in 2017. Internationally, there were 137 instances of racism in sports in 2018, a sharp increase from the 79 acts of racism in 2017.” (Lapchick)

Some people blame the increase in racial incidents in sports on the government. (Hattam p. 61) “In January, the predominately black men’s and women’s basketball teams from Labette Community College in Parsons, Kansas, visited North Arkansas College. They were met with ‘monkey noises and crow caws.’ Harrison, Arkansas — where North Arkansas College is located — is, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the national headquarters of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and was profiled as the ‘most racist town in America.’ (Lapchick)

Major League Baseball is made up of about 8.3 percent of African American, 59.1 percent of Caucasian, 28.5 percent Latino and 1.7 percent Asian. Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier in 1947. He was the first African American baseball player. Baseball among African American youth has declined. Baseball is considered a sport for white people. (Lapchick)

“When Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, who is black, was asked why baseball players didn’t kneel for the national anthem like NFL player Colin Kaepernick, he said this to USA Today last year: We already have two strikes against us already, so you might as well not kick yourself out of the game. In football, you can’t kick them out. You need those players. In baseball, they don’t need us. Baseball is a white man’s sport.”(Lapchick)

Race plays a critical role in policing and racial profiling in the United States of America. Almost 2.3 million people are in prison today. Almost seventy percent of prisoners are non-white. Latino men have a one in six chance of being imprisoned. African American men have a one in three chance of being imprisoned. Caucasian men have a one in twenty chance of being imprisoned. (Martin) In his February 2001 address to Congress, President George W. Bush reported that he’d asked Attorney General John Ashcroft ‘to develop specific recommendations to end racial profiling. It’s wrong, and we will end it in America. Some people say racial profiling doesn’t exist. Numbers don’t lie. The stories told don’t lie. (Callahen and Anderson)

“Crises of the Anti-Drug Effort, 1999, a report by Chad Thevenot of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a group that monitors abuses of the American legal system. (Callahan and Anderson) Thevenot writes: ’76 percent of the motorists stopped along a 50-mile stretch of I-95 by Maryland’s Special Traffic Interdiction Force (STIF) were black, according to an Associated Press computer analysis of car searches from January through September 1995….Blacks constitute 25 percent of Maryland’s population, and 20 percent of Marylanders with driver’s licenses.’ As this story was being written, New Jersey was holding hearings on racial profiling, and one state police investigator testified that 94 percent of the motorists stopped in one town were minorities.” (Callahan and Anderson) America will probably never heal from the impacts of racial discrimination. There is a cultural divide.


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